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Full text of "Robert Harley, earl of Oxford [microform]; the Stanhope prize essay, 1925"

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AUTHOR: 



MILLER, O. B. 



TITLE: 



ROBERT HARLEY, EARL 
OF OXFORD 

PLACE: 

OXFORD 

DA TE : 

1925 



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ROBERT HARLEY 
EARL OF OXFORD 



0. B, MILLER. 



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ROBERT HARLEY 
EARL OF OXFORD 



The Stanhope Prize Essay, 1925 



By O. B. MILLER 

Jesus College, Oxford 



OXFORD: BASIL BLACKWELL 
MDCCCCXXV 



-. CONTENTS 

Chapter I.-Robert Harley, M.P. - 

Chapter II.-Speaker Harley, Secretary of State 

Chapter III.-Robin the Trickster - 

Chapter IV.-Earl of Oxford, Lord High Treasurer 

OF England 
Chapter V.-^Last Years - " " " 

Bibliography - - " " 



PAGE 
I 

9 
19 

30 

47 

■ 53 



j^ 



Printed in Great Britain 
•By Harvey, Bint and Pulker, Oxonian Press. Oxjord 



I 



TO 

J. B. BROWN, M.A., 

BY WHOSE INTEREST AND STIMULUS 

I WAS INCLINED TO 

THE STUDY OF 

HISTORY 



k 



Chapter I 
ROBERT HARLEY, M.P. 

The political career of Robert Harley begins with his return 
as Member of Parliament for Tregony in a by-election of 
April, 1689. He was then twenty-seven years of age, being 
born at Bow Street on 5th December, 1661. Educated at a 
private school at Shilton, near Burford, and at Foubert's 
Academy, near Haymarket,^ he became a member of the 
Inner Temple in March, 1682. He did not, however, pursue 
his legal studies far, and the Revolution of 1688 brought him 
into the Parliamentary arena. The political atmosphere in 
which he had been reared is significant for his own develop- 
ment in its freedom from dogmatic partisan conviction. His 
father, Sir Edward Harley, had inherited a tradition of Puri- 
tanism, which he himself infused with principles of widest 
moderation.- He had fought for Parliament in 1642, but 
had opposed Cromwell; he had welcomed the return of 
Charles II, but at the Revolution had, with his son Robert, 
held Worcester for the Prince of Orange.^ Throughout these 
(^hanging circumstances, the political activity of Sir Edward 
Harley had been determined by a consistent opposition to 
extremes in either direction, and the maturity of his son 
Robert bore the fruit of adolescence amid such moderating 

influences. 

The times, indeed, were singularly ripe for some fluidity 
of conviction. The Revolution had acted as a solvent of 
party creeds, and both Whigs and Tories were suffering a 



1 Sir Ed.— Lady Harley, 6th July, 1680; Foubert— R. 
2otb Novomber, 16S1 (P. III). 

2 Auditor Harley 's Memoir (P. V). 

3 Ibid. (P. V). 



Harley, 



m''^^'w 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925 



process of disintegration.^ A line of cleavage was emerging 
ill Whig and Tory parties alike between an orthodox ex- 
tremist and a ' modern ' or moderate wing, with a conse- 
quent tendency to crystallise into smaller units, /govern- 
ments were based upon a combination of groups eftected by 
the King's influence, and ministers stood above party divi- 
sions • the Opposition was likewise compounded of hetero- 
'^eneous groups, both Tory and Whig.^- It was with one of 
fhese latter that Harley, by political heritage and family 
connection, was associated. By birth, he was a Whig; he 
upheld the principles of the Revolution."^ His election had 
been arranged by his father with Hampden, Foley, whose 
niece he had married, and Boscawen, whose influence com- 
manded Tregonv.^ This group of county gentlemen main- 
tained the traditions of the old ' country ' party and were 
determined opponents of the government, but were not pre- 
pared to go to the extremes of the main body of Whigs. 
This divergence, however, had not yet appeared ; the govern- 
ment was becoming decidedly Tory in complexion-^^ and the 
Whirrs were at one in fierce opposition. They obstructed 
supplies, refused a Bill of Indemnity, and pressed their 
attack with a bill of pains and penalties ; by the Sacheverell 
clause in the bill restoring corporations, they endeavoured to 
disfranchise for seven years a considerable Tory vote, in 
this campaign of violence, Harley joined with the Foley group 
and suffered accordingly at the dissolution of February 6th 
His name appeared in a list of Commonwealth s men issued 
bv'the Tories, and he was unsuccessful in contesting New 
Radnor; his father, Hampden, and-others of the group were 
also defeated. 

1 J Colt— R. Harley, 22nd March, 1680-90 (P. HI)- 

2 K(l.— Sir Ed. Harley, loth November, i6c)i (P. HI). 
•I Rob— Sir E. Harley, 27th July, 1680 (P- HD- 

4 Sir E.— Rob. Harley, 30th March, 1680 (P. HI). 

r, p;a.— Rob. Harley, 26th March, 1689 (P. HI). 

6 Kd.— Sir E. Harley, 22nd February, 1689-90 (P. HI). 



ROBERT HARLEY, M.P. 



3 



A successful petition, however, gave him the seat in 
November, 1690.^ In Parliament, he devoted himself to 
public business, and was soon elected to the Commission for 
Public Accounts. By diligent application, he early achieved 
prominence,- and began to wield considerable weight in the 
counsels of the Foley group. The consistent opposition of 
this group to the Government was concentrated in the agita- 
tion for the Place and Triennial Bills, in support of which 
Harley 's unflagging energy enabled him to play an important 
part."* This line of action brought him into contact with a 
section of the Tories led by Clarges and Musgrave ; they also 
professed the old ' country ' principles and were firm in hos- 
tility to the court, despite advances from the ministerial 
Tories.^ Clarges was generally to be found in the same lobby 
with Harley and Foley; as early as December, 1691, he and 
Musgrave were considered tinged with Whiggism, and in 
1692 Harley was consulting him on methods of attack."' 
Identity of action drew these sections together, and from as 
early as 1693 they were regarded as acting in alliance.^ 

Inevitably Harley departed from his original factious 
Whiggism ; his divergence from the central body under 
Wharton appeared in his hostility to the abjuration oaths. ^ 
His attitude is, however, perfectly consistent ; there is no need 
to postulate disgust at not receiving due reward for his ser- 
vices in the Revolution as a passion that determined his ac- 
tions/ He was still a Whig, JDut one who did not allow party 

1 Ed.— Sir E. Harley, 8th November, 1690 (P. TH). 

2 Rob — Sir E. Harley, 7th March, 26th July, and loth November, 
1691 (P. HI). 

3 Same, 28th January, 1692-3 (P. HI); Macaulay, IV, 50 sqq. — he 
introduced the Triennial Bill himself v. Lodge and Collins. 

■* R. Price — Beaufort (Carte MSS., 130, p. 326 sqq. passim). 

^ Ed. — Sir Ed. Harley, 23rd December, 1691 ; Clarges — R. Harley, 
I2th February, 1691-2 (P. HI). 

^ Dialogue between Whig and Tory (cited by Felling). 

" Rob. — Sir Ed. Harley, 27th December, 1692 (P. III). 

* Contemporary Macky, repeated by Lodge. 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



ROBERT HARLEY, M.P. 



animus to obscure his principles. He wished to see the con- 
stitutional advance of the Revolution consummated ni the 
supremacv of Parliament and the complete liberty of the sub- 
ject ' The latter was menaced by the suspension of Habeas 
Corpus and the severity of the treason laws ; he urged the 
repeal of the suspension and supported a bill to modify the 
treason laws.= William HI exercised the royal mflucnce to 
control the Parliamentary majority ; the Triennial and Place 
Bills were Harley's counter to this insidious attack. His 
comprehensive religious beliefs, a paternal heritage, assured 
his support of the Toleration Act but no ess inspired his 
aversion from attacks on the Church," and this dis^position 
contributed much to smooth the way to alliance with Clarges 

'''tL^ powerful influence wielded by this alliance compelled 
the attention of Shrewsbury, Godolphin, and Sunderland, he 
power in the Government, and advances were made to Harley 
and Foley.-' But they maintained their freedom of action, 
and their power was demonstrated by the unanimous election 
f Foley as Speaker in March, ,695.' An interesting side- 
ight on the position of Harley is afforded by the^ overtures 
m«le at this period by Halifax' ; the ' Trimmer had recog- 
nised a congenial sphere for the exercise of those moderating 
faculties so characteristic of his past career. In the elec ions 
of October, ,695, the Whigs gained at the expense of the 
Tories but this success only served to emphasise the pre- 
Imirence in Opposition of Harley's ^-ip The d t- 
Clarges had brought Harley to the forefront of the party it 
had also brought him into closer relations with the more ex- 

1 Grey, X, 330. „ ^ o^ o,, 

2 ,\ud. Harley's Memoir (P. V) ; Grey, X, 251. =*">- *"=■ 

•■> Grev, X, 302, 329 sqq.. 368 sqq. 

^Macky.Aud. Harley's Memoir (P. V); Rob.-Sir F.. Harley, 2;,h 

December, i6qo (P. HI). ,^ , .. 

5 Shrews.-R. Harley, 4th October and 6th November, 1694 (Bath T). 

6 Chandler, HI, i. ^ /n .u t\ 

7 Hal.-Harley, October, 1603 (P- "!>' ^^'^^''^ ^^^^ ^^^'^ ^^' 



treme Tory wing of the alliance, and the successful list of 
Commissioners for Public Accounts in February, 1696, was 
the fruit of concert with W. Bromley, the leader of this Church 
section. The Assassination Plot threatened this coalition 
with immediate ruin, for Bromley refused to subscribe the 
Association declaring- William rightful and lawful king ; but 
Harley's cogent persuasion parried this skilful Whig move, 
and preserved the embryonic unity. ^ 

The case of Sir J. Fenwick made this apparent. To pre- 
vent public discussion of Fenwick's charges against the 
ministers, the King was driven to have recourse to personal 
interviews with Harley and Foley ; none the less, they vigor- 
ously opposed the Bill of Attainder, as an act of retrospective 
Whig violence.- The resignation of Godolphin and the 
alienation of Shrewsbury and Sunderland from the Whig 
Junto weakened the stability of the Government and left 
it unprepared to meet the demand for army disbandment 
which succeeded the conclusion of peace at Ryswick. In this 
agitation Harley took the lead ; he considered that the finan- 
cial disorder necessitated a stringent reduction of land forces, 
and in December, 1697, carried a resolution to disband all 
additions since 1680.^ The Whigs were roused to fight for 
the pre-eminence they were losing, but the favour of the 
King was passing from them^ and the elections of July, 1698, 
showed that the country also was turning away. 

In the hour of his triumph, when the crumbling Whig 
Government was gradually being replaced by a Tory minis- 
try, Harley never swerved from the principles that had 
inspired his opposition. Under its shelter, the Tories had 
survived the Whig oppression, and they were burning to 

1 Price— Beaufort, 27th June, 1695 (Carte, 130, p 361) ; Harley— 
Bromley, 28th April, 1696 (P. III). 

- R.— Sir E. Harley, 13th October, 1696 (P. HI) ; Macaulay, IV, 
174 sqq. 

•■* Aud. Harley's Memoir (P. V); Rob— Sir E. Harley, 21st January, 
1698-9 (P. Ill); T. Rowney-Charlett, 5th March, 1697 (Ballard, 38, 
p. 186); Pari. Hist., V, 1167-8. 

* Aud. Harley's Memoir (P. V). 



THE STANHOrE ESSAY, 1925. 



retaliate in kind, but Harley refused to lend his support to 
factious violence. He carried the campaign for disbandment 
to a victorious end on February ist, 1698-9. As a measure 
of financial relief, he joined in the attack on the Irish grants, 
but in the resultant Parliamentary crisis of April, 1700, 
exerted all his power to avert the excesses of hard-won vic- 
tory.' Quite early in this Parliament some of his followers 
had shown signs of intransigence ; success was proving dis- 
ruptive.^ Yet his central position made Harley the more 
pr!)minent ; the death of Foley, November, 1697, left him the 
leading figure in the Commons. ' In the ministerial changes 
he played a decisive part ; he was in frequent consultation 
with the King, and with CJodolphin and Rochester, between 
whom he acted as peacemaker at a critical moment His 
management built up a Tory ministry of which Godolphin at 
the Treasury and Rochester as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 
were the mainspring. Conjecture had freely canvassed his 
own claims to office ; definite oifers had indeed been made, yet 
he was finally content with government support in his nomina- 
tion to the Speakership. • This refusal to accept the due re- 
ward of his services is in complete accord with his guiding 
principles. The obligations of office would not permit him 
to continue his work of vindicating the supremacy of Parlia- 
ment against Court influence and securing the liberty ot the 
subject; until the Revolution was thus consummated, he 
would retain his independence unimpaired. 

The Parliament that assembled in February, 1701, was ot 
Tory complexion; with Ciovernment support Harley was 
elected Speaker by a large majority. The dominating ques- 

1 Cf. Pari Hist., V, 1215-8. 

- Rob— Sir E. Harley, 28th March, 1O99 (P. HI). 

;; Hij^kes— R. Harley, 29th February, 1699- 1700 (P. HI). 

4 H Guv ust August-i2th December, Rochester, May 1st (P. HI), 
ami (iodolphin, November 24th, 1700 (P. IV), to R. Harley. 

:. R Price, 12th December, 1700, P. HI, and God., January 1 700-1 
(P ivi to Hurley ; Autobiog. Fragment (P. IV) ; Aud. Harley's Memoir 
(P. V). 



ROBERT HARLEY, M.P. 



tion of the succession at once absorbed its attention, for the 
recent death of Anne's son, Gloucester, made some settle- 
ment imperative. Harley seized the opportunity to obtain 
those securities for which he had long striven ; he declared 
that his aim was ' to maintain the ancient government of Eng- 
land in Church and State,' a declaration of war upon the 
rule of William 1 11.^ On his initiative it was resolved that 
before regulating the succession ' farther provision be first 
made for security of the rights and liberties of the people '~ ; 
In the Act of Settlement the power of Parliament was safe- 
guarded by clauses i — 7 limiting the power of the throne, 
requiring the signature of Privy Councillors to all business of 
the realm, and excluding placemen ; clauses 8 and 9 secured 
the liberties of the people and the independence of the judi- 
ciary ; while the last clause vested the succession in the 
Electress Sophia and her heirs. ^ The Act of Settlement was 
peculiarly Harley's work* ; it was the crowning point of his 
constitutional programme, and from this time onward, the 
mantle of Opposition seems to slip from his shoulders. He 
endeavoured to prevent the impeachment of Halifax, Somers 
and Orford for their conduct of the Partition Treaties ; 
although at first he hoped to avoid war with Louis, the arbi- 
trary actions of that monarch soon made him realise that 
the only alternative to a full settlement was * to preserve the 
liberties of Europe by a necessary war. '"^ But the party ani- 
mosity of the Tories threatened to obstruct all business, and 
William leaned to the Whigs, and dissolved, hoping that the 
rising enthusiasm for war would return a more compliant 
Commons. His hopes were but partially realised ; his sup- 



1 Harley — Weymouth, 5th November, 1700 (P. III). 

2 Burnet, IV^ 486 (Hardwicke's Notes) : Chandler, HI, 130. 
^ Chandler, loc. cit. 

* Burnet, ut supra. 

^ Aud. Harley's Memoir (P. V) ; Harley — Weymouth, 5th November, 
1700 (P. HI); Chandler, HI, 182. 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



port of Sir T. Littleton, the Whig candidate for the Speaker- 
ship, proved unavailing, and Harley was re-elected by a 
narrow majority.^ The King's opposition showed that Har- 
ley was now identified with the Tories ; hence for him also 
the death of William opened an era of brighter hopes. 

1 Chandler, III, 183, Aud. Harley (P. V) and Coxc (Marl. 1, 14) give 
14; Luttrcll, Stanhope and Felling give 4, as his majority. 



CllAPTliK 11. 



SPEAKER HARLEY, SECRETARY OF STATE 



Thk accession of Anne begins a new phase in Harley s 
development. Hitherto, his attitude has been mamly nega- 
tive, his activity that of opposition : even the Act of Settle- 
ment, his nearest approach to constructive work, he himself 
regarded rather as a barrier against encroachment such as 
William had practised than as a means of constitutional ad- 
vance. But he now worked with the Government, he was 
soon to take Cabinet office, and until his fall in 17 14, he was 
seeking to construct a basis of government upon his own 
lines He who had done so much to exclude placemen from 
Parliament joined in the Regency Act to restore them^ ; he 
who had inveighed against Godolphin's tenure of office 
worked with him as Secretary of State ; he who under Wil- 
liam had fought the royal influence as subversive of Parlia- 
mentary liberty declared under Anne that ' the Queen is the 
centre of power and union.'- 

This seeming paradox inevitably suggests unfavourable 
conclusions : they are natural but must be qualified. While 
the opening of Harley 's career may to some extent have been 
determined by the maxim that opposition is for young states- 
men the proverbial path to power, his subsequent action 
involves no sacrifice of principle. For the conditions that 
determined Harley's early policy had changed, and with 
them his ideas, but even in change he did not desert his 

1 Chandler, HI, 453-4 [I h^re assume Harley to be included in the 
' Court party ']. 

2 Hardwicke Papers, H, 485 sqq. 



io 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



g^Liiding principles.' His opposition had been to William 
more than to the throne ; he had regarded him both as a 
foreigner pursuing interests prejudicial to England, and as 
a monarch exerting his influence against Parliamentary liber- 
ties.- But the death of William removed this incubus, the 
Act of Settlement prevented its recurrence, and, with Anne, 
the nation rejoiced in a Queen ' entirely English.' Through- 
out, Harley had been national and conservative' ; under Wil- 
liam this had meant opposition, but Queen Anne was, in 
herself the focus of nationalism, and in her regard^ lor 
' Church and State ' the rallying point of conservatism. This 
' new monarchy ' occupies a considerable place in Harley's 
political scheme ; it is to be the foundation of a comprehen- 
sive government.' He proclaimed that he stood above 
parties ; he worked upon the whole field of political opinion 
that lay between the extremes of Whig and Tory. ' His aim 
was to reconstitute the Parliamentary grouping, to compre- 
hend all moderates and build from them a firm basis of 
national royalism, centring in the Queen. ^ In this concep- 
tion ministerial office is no longer incompatible with the liber- 
ties of Parliament; in his hands it can be made a bond ot 
continuity, whereby monarch and Parliament together may 
represent the voice of the nation. 

From the very beginning of the new reign, he worked 
towards these ideals. His watchword was moderation, his 
view embraced all, irrespective of creed, whom party violence 
had not hardened to inflexibility.' From 1702 to 1707, he 

1 Harlry— Davcrs, i6th October, 1705 (P. IV"). 

^ Cf. Act of Settlement and his opposition to Dutch officers, Dutch 
favourites and Dutch guards : also Burnet, VI, 45. 

a Cf. supra note 2 : Harley— Weymouth 5th November, 1700 {V All). 

« Harley— Godolphin, 4th September, 1705 (Bath, I). 

^ Same, i6th November, 1706 (Coxe, II, 19). 

6 ' In her (Queen) they will all centre ' (Harley— Godolphin ut supra). 

' Harley— God., 9th August, 1702 (Add. MSS., 28055, p. 3). 



SPEAKER HARLEY, SECRETARY OF STATE ii 



worked steadily with Marlborough and ^"^.^'Ph "'^f^^^^^S'. 
left them when their surrender to the \^'h.g J""to contra 
verted every tenet of his pohfcal fa.th. t"'' ^'^^ f^f 
vears of this period, they were associated with the Tones 
]^::Le maiority they had constructed the.r mm|stry -., 
Harlev was invaluable in surmounting mmor difficulties. 
But the Tory pursuit of party ends speedily outran then" zea 
for a war to which they had been committed mo^e by the 
"itional enthusiasm than their own conviction and Marl- 
borou-h and (iodolphin gradually moved towards the middle 
position occupied by Harley. He had been unswerving in 
Too U o"i to'^the 'wild faction-; in 1703 he openly disap- 
prove of the removal of Whig Lords-Lieutenant, sheriffs and 
fuTtles of the peace effected by Nottingham, and in 1704 
vas pmminent in resisting the Occasiorial Conformity BH . 
H-.rlev had from the first been deep m the counsels of ^ arl- 
"rougltind Godolphin.- They had met together regularly 
twice a week, and were known as 'the Triumvirate and 
Hafey hid a sisted in drafting the royal speeches wherein 
he 1 ad expressed his leaning to ' moderation and unity. 
When to the weight of his influence was added the preference 
of I e To ies for'liaval rather than military operations, Marl- 
lo ugh and Godolphin hesitated no longer. The dism is^U 
of Rochester in 1705 had removed the most violent ; in 1704 
Ue got nnent ^as relieved of the cabals of Nottingham 
who resigned when his henchmen Jersey and Seymour were 
dismissed That Harley was beliind this move^ is apparent 
1 om the new appointments ; he himself replaced Nottingham 
as Secretary of State ; the Earl of Kent, a moderate Whig, 

1 Marl.— Harley, 1st October, 1703 (Bath. 1). 
= Harley— Newcastle, i8th November, 1704 (P. H). 
•' God -Harley, January-September, 1702 (P. IV, paisim). 
4 God -Harley, March 8th, .70.-2, September .6th, "/O^, Novem- 
ber 4th .703 (P. IV): West-Harley, agth August, .704 (P- 'V). P'^''- 

Hist., VI, 335)- 

■. Ue Foe— Account of Conduct of Oxford (.7.5). P- >^- 



12 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



SPEAKER HARLEY, SECRETARY OF STATE 13 



replaced Jersey, Sir T. Mansell, Harley's neighbour and inti- 
mate friend, replaced Seymour, while St. John, a Tory to 
whom Harley was 'dear Master,'^ was brought in as Secre- 
tary for War, 

The next three years really form the crisis of Harley's 
career. With his own accession to office, his principles were 
installed in the seat of government, for Marlborough and 
(iodolphin, convinced of the inti actability of the Tories, were 
in full accord with his views.- Tliese, indeed, were congenial 
to them ; both Marlborough and Godolphin stood outside 
party divisions ; the only dogmatic article in their political 
faith was the necessity of a vigorous prosecution oi the war. 
When the violence of the Tories threatened this cherished 
aim, they moved from the Right of the Parliamentary field 
to Harley, in the Centre ; they were ready to abandon Harley 
for the Left when the power of the Whigs alone could com- 
plete their life work. 

For the present, however, the resumption of the Tory 
attack (Jetermined the Whigs to work with Harley ; indeed, 
he was still considered a Whig, both in England and Scot- 
land.' The alliance of Harley's moderates and the Whigs 
easily defeated the attempt to tack Occasional Conformity in 
December, 1704.* An examination of the votes of members 
on this question reveals that Harley and St. John commanded 
a considerable following of moderate Tories, ' while through- 
out 1704 Harley was in close communication with the Duke 
of Newcastle, a moderate Whig, with the aim of bringing 
him into office.® The object is clear; the defeat of the Tory 
' high-fliers ' was to be utilised to secure a Parliament consti- 

1 St. John— Harley, 15th May, 1705 (P. IV). 

- Coxe, II, 103-6. 

3 Peyton — Newcastle, i8th September, 1705 (P. IV); McPherson, His- 
tory, II, 292 ; Cranstoun — Cunningham, ist October, 1705 (P. IV). 

•* Marl. —Harley, 16th Deceml'Cr, 1704 (Bath., 1). 

5 Pari. History, VI, 362. 

fi Harley — Newcastle, May-December, 1704 (P. II passim). 



4' 



tuted as Harley desired; and Newcastle's rent-roll and elec- 
toral influence were to be the ' corner-stone of the fabric. 
On April ist, Newcastle was appointed Privy Seal m place 
of the Tory Buckingham, and the electoral campaign begun 
which was to confirm Harley's policy. ^ 

It is at this time, when everything seemed set for a triumph 
of his principles, that it becomes clear that Harley is cherish- 
ing- an unattainable ideal, and must ultimately end in failure. 
The maintenance of his policy depends upon an impossible 
balancing of forces; his victory over tlie Tories withers in 
his grasp and is snatched from him by the Whigs. The elec- 
tions went in their favour ; in the new Parliament the Tories 
were estimated at 190, the W^higs at 160, and the Court par y 
at 100 ^ The Government had therefore to rely for a work- 
in- majority upon one or other of the two great parties ; 
rehance meant dependence, and dependence would pass in- 
sensiblv into subjection. The Whigs were now well-disposed 
toward; the Court, and Godolphin leaned injheir direction.- 
Harlev was fully prepared to join with the Whigs ; he worked, 
through Newcastle, to gain the more moderate to his own 
principles. When the prospects of his candidate, Harcourt 
we e blasted by the Tories,^ he assisted in tl.e elevation of 
the Whig Smith to the Speaker's Chair. He was pleased 
with the appointment of Cowper as Lord Keeper ; on January 
6 70S-6 he gave a dinner to bring the Wh gs into agree- 
ment with the lovernment, w^hile his connection w'th New^ 
castle always kept open a channel of negotiation. But an 
incurable distrust on the part of the Whigs discounted all his 

, Harley-Nexvcastle, December 2nd, 1704; Fairfax-Newcastle Sep- 
tomh" 27rb and November 5th, 1705 (P- ") ^^^eals the extent of h.s 
influence. 

2 God —Harley, 22nd March, 1705-6 (P. IV). 

3 Peyton-Newcastle, September i8th, 1705: God.-Harley. 22nd 
March, 1705-6 (P. IV). 

., Harlev— Price, 14th August, 1705 (P. IV). , . . , 

. Marl.-HnHey. 3^ Juno. ,706 (Ba.b. I)-. Cowp.r's Diary (Ced by 
l^odge). 



H 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



SPEAKER HARLEY, SECRETARY OF STATE i 



eflForts/ and before tlie end of 1706, he was already turning 
back to the Tories. Marlboroug-h and Godolphin, however, 
were being- g-radually swept into the Whij^ net ; the appoint- 
ment of the young Sunderland as envoy to Vienna at the end 
of 1705 was of ominous portent, for he had led the most 
extreme section of the Whigs. 

On the vital importance of the Union with Scotland, agree- 
ment still prevailed between Godolphin, Harlev and the 
Whigs. To this great achievement, nobody contributed more 
than Harley.^ He co-operated with Ciodolphin in the nomina- 
tion of the Commissioners for Union, and himself was a mem- 
ber of the Commission : he despatched first Greg and then 
De Foe to Scotland, to influence opinion in favour of the 
Union and keep him accurately informed of the changing 
political conditions, and was in constant communication with 
the Parliamentary leaders in Edinburgh. '^ The resultant inti- 
mate knowledge of his subject gave him great weight in the 
deliberation of the Commission, at which he was assiduous in 
attendance. He helped to secure the Bill from disaster by 
piecemeal discussion in the Commons ; he afterwards endea- 
voured to maintain its spirit by a resolution to prevent 
frauds.* It is his supreme legislative contribution to the 
national progress and the magnitude of the benefits it has 
conferred upon posterity must be reckoned in the measure of 
Harley's worth. 

Apart from the Union, however, agreement between Har- 
ley, Godolphin and the Whigs had practically disappeared. 
The Whigs were in a strong position, due largely to the futile 
course pursued by the Tories. The latter annoyed the Queen 
intensely with a motion to invite the Electress Sophia, and 
then frittered away any possible gains of Hanoverian favour 
with cavilling amendments to the Regency Bill. They were 

1 Cowper's Diary (cited by Stanhope). 

2 C/. Hnrley-Godolphin, 1704-5 (Add. MSS., 28055, passim). 

^ God. — Harley, 5th April. 1705 (Bath. 1) : Secret Service Correspon- 
dence (P. IV passim) v. esp. I)e Foe — Harley, 13th September, 1706, 

'* Burnet, V. 200. 



ready to revive the animosities of 1704 by the cry of ' the 
Church in danger ' ; and in the Lords, Rochester, Anglesea, 
Nottingham and Haversham v/aged guerilla warfare against 
the Act of Union. ^ These fretful and sterile tactics alienated 
the Queen and served to confirm Godolphin in his reliance 
upon the Whigs. The latter thus became masters of the 
situation ; they were determined to establish themselves in 
power and pressed the claim of their leaders to office. The 
appointment of Sunderland as Secretary of State in place of 
the Tory Hedges in December, 1706, was a token of com- 
plete victory ; it was consolidated by Whig promotions in the 
peerage, and the exclusion of Buckingham, Nottingham and 
Rochester from the Privy Council. Harley had early de- 
clared against driving the country gentry into opposition ; to 
counter the Whig advance, he moved towards the Tories. ^ 
This approach was ably seconded by St. John ; he had been 
a red-hot Tory, and even when most under the influence of 
Harley 's ideas, had a pronounced Tory bias.^^ The Whigs 
focussed their hostility upon Harley ; to him they imputed 
the resistance to their will that derived from the aversion of 
the Queen and the dislike of Marlborough ; and they deter- 
mined to drive him from office. In defence, Harley worked 
to establish himself against attack ; the Whigs tightened their 
grip upon Godolphin and Marlborough, and throughout 1707 
the split in the government grew wider and wider. 

Harley had realised long before that to make his position 
secure, he must build up a Parliamentary power independent 
of the two parties. The mainstays of this power were to be 
two men, great in different directions, Newcastle and 
Shrewsbury. With Newcastle, he had sedulously cultivated 
close relations ; the Duke's extensive interest was invaluable 
to him as a nucleus about which a party might crystallise.* 
Shrewsbury's contribution would be more intangible; his 

1 Pari. History, \T, 450-500, 560-77- 

2 Harley— Godolphin, 4th September, 1705 (Bath). 

^ St. John— Coke, 19th September, 1705 (Cowper HI). 
'* Cf. Note I, p. 13. 



i6 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



soubriquet, ' the King of Hearts,'^ was inspired by his power 
of drawing men of every opinion in his train. With this 
great political middleman, Harley had maintained communi- 
(\'iti()n since 1703.- Throughout 1704, their correspondence 
grew more intimate, and rumours of Shrewsbury's re-entry 
into politics began to circulate in England."' In January, 
1706, he returned to England, but only to withdraw into 
seclusion and abstain entirely from political activity. Harley, 
however, kept him in touch with the changing political situa- 
tion, and he was, as it were, kept as a reserve power."* 

Harley had intended to group this power round Marl- 
borough and Godolphin ; indeed, the power of the government 
was essential to nourish his political progeny ; and up to the 
end of 1707 he strove hard to bring them into touch with his 
ideas. ' The war, however, proved an insuperable barrier. 
The Tories would not and Harley alone could not give Marl- 
borough and Godolphin the support necessary for their war 
policy. Harley, in addition, was becoming convinced of the 
necessity of peace, *^ and during 1707 it became clear that 
Marlborough and Godolphin would not abandon the Whigs. 
For long, the Churchills had engrossed the Queen's ear and 
become the sole channel of that Court favour so decisive in 
the determination of Parliamentary equilibrium. But the 
royal influence was an essential element in Harley 's plans, 
and he worked to establish an independent position in the 
royal favour. He soon made himself persona grata to the 
Queen, '^ whose virtues in many respects he mirrored ; his 

^ Do Foe — A Secret History of One Year (1714), p. 26, 
- Harley — Shrewsbury, ist May, 1703 (Bath). 

^ Stepney — Shrews., November 4th and nth, 1704 (Buccleuch, H, 
pt. 2). 

' Shrews. — Bucks, 8th December, 1707 (ihid.), I assume Harley is the 
' great neighbour.' Cf. Harl. — Shrews., 27th July, 1708 (ibid.). 

^ Harley — Newcastle, September, 1707 (P. H). 

* For distrust of Austria v. Harley — Stepney, December ioth-2ist, 
1706 (Add. MSS., 7050, p. iiq). 

7 St. John — Harley, 30th January, 1706-7 (Bath), 



SPEAKER HARLEY, SECRETARY OF STATE 17 



f 



\ 



progress was consolidated by the rise to power in 1707 of a 
new favourite, Abigail Hill, later Mrs. Masham. Abigail 
Hill had been introduced to Court by the Duchess of Marl- 
borough, to whom she was related, and owed her escape 
from poverty to the post of bed-chamber woman thus ob- 
tained. Her gentle demeanour and assiduous attention won 
for herself the royal affection, so long borne down by the 
tlomineering insolence of the Duchess. Harley discovered 
that she was related to him also, and succeeded in establish- 
ing a close agreement ; she kept Harley informed of her mis- 
tress's humours and unobtrusively inculcated his principles 
into the ready mind of Anne.^ 

Harley was determined in his hostility to the Junto and lost 
no occasion of increasing the Queen's antipathy to them.^ 
On the other hand, adversity had damped the ardour of the 
Tories; Poulett, a moderate Tory friend of Harley's, assured 
him that they were now ' earnest to give any proofs of the 
conviction of their folly. '"^ Harley urged this upon Marl- 
borough, but the only result was to generate suspicion of his 
good faith.'* Apparent confirmation of this suspicion was 
afforded by the nomination of Tory High Churchmen to the 
sees of Exeter and Chester, announced by Anne without con- 
sulting Godolphin or Marlborough. It was at once imputed 
to Harley's intrigue, and he protested in vain his innocence of 
this and similar suspicions.^ An impossible situation rapidly 
developed; the Whigs determined to coerce Marlborough, 
and prepared to attack his brother, yet his efforts to procure 
the dismissal of Harley came to nought before the obstinacy 
of the Queen. But Harley also was unable to make any 
progress ; his overtures to Somerset and Devonshire on one 
side, and Bromley and Hanmer on the other, were coldly re- 

1 Ab. Masham— Harley, 29th September, 1707 (P. IV). 

2 God. — Marl., 24th June, 1707 (Coxe, II). 

3 Poulett— Harley, i6th July, 1707 (P. IV). 

4 Harley— Newcastle, September, 1707 (P. IV); Coxe, II, ch. LVIII 
and LX (passim). 

5 Harley— Marl., i6th September, 1707 (Coxe, II), 



i8 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



ceived.^ The Tory rejection of war in the Netherlands and 
the formidable display of Whig- power drove Marlborough 
to the final step ; the treason of a clerk, Greg, unfortunately 
discovered at this juncture, gave Harley unfavourable notor- 
iety, and on Sunday, 8th February, 1707-8, the General and 
the Treasurer announced their refusal to work any longer 
with him. Nevertheless, the Queen persisted ; a Cabinet 
meeting had been summoned for that day, and she took her 
place as usual. Harley rose amid grim faces to open busi- 
ness, but after some murmuring, Somerset gave voice to the 
general opinion in refusing to continue in the absence of the 
General and Treasurer, and the Queen hurriedly closed the 
session. Still, however, Anne showed no sign of giving 
way : she had been in frequent consultation with Harley, and 
he was probably calculating his chances of constructing a 
ministry.- But he had had no time to mature his prepara- 
tions ; the Tories held aloof and the Whig pressure was unre- 
laxed. He therefore accepted defeat, and on the nth 
February ceased to hold office. "^ With him resigned St. 
John, Harcourt, and Mansell, and the administration was 
given over to the Whigs. Harley had been checked in his 
constructive designs while in office ; if he were to (>omplete 
them, it must now be in Opposition. 



I Burnet, V, 350. 

- Annf— Hnrloy, January, 1707-S (Bath). 

-i Luttrell, 11, 262 sqq.; Burn.t, V. 341; Aud. Harloy's MonKnr 
(P. V): Bath 1 (passim); Cox.', 11, ch. LXIV- Stanhop»\ 



Chapter HI 

'ROBIN THE TRICKSTER'^ 

The two years that succeeded his loss of office were spent 
by Harley in a maze of tortuous negotiation that seems to 
give substance to the Wliigs' contemptuous epithet.' These 
years reproduced in large measure his failure of 1705-7, with 
the position of the great parties reversed ; now it was the 
Whig Junto that Harley was fighting and among the Tories 
that he sought his counterpoise. The result was as before ; 
he conquered the Whigs, but in his victory was delivered into 
the hands of the Tories, by whom the fruits of victory were 
reaped. Once again, failure to build up a moderate power 
ultimately put him at the mercy of a faction, against which 
he was compelled to fight yet without which he could not 
stand. 

He began his task, however, with two great facts in his 
favour. Foremost was his position with regard to the Queen. 
It had been with the greatest reluctance that Anne had parted 
with Harley- ; he had made himself the minister nearest her 
ideal ; and she nursed a grievance against the Whig power, 
whence sprang the necessity that had driven her to act against 
her will. Moreover, Mrs. Masham retained her position ; 
Marlborough and the Whigs neglected to insist upon her re- 
moval, and her influence increased as the acrimony of the 
Duchess killed the lingering vestiges of Anne's regard. In 
her, Harley possessed an invaluable ally, through whom he 



1 Beaufort to Harley, 23rd September, 1710 (P. IV). 

2 Swift— Hist, four last years of Queen, X, 93- De Foe—' Eleven 
Opinions about Mr. Harley ' (p. 13). 



20 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



kept in touch with the Queen and was able to prompt the 
royal will in resistance to Whig tyranny.^ While the Whig 
power was thus attacked at the centre, another potent force 
was undermining its base. The nation was growing weary 
of the war. It was sated with the glory of victories that 
brought no gains but increased burdens, when taxation 
mounted to the crushing figure of six million pounds per 
annum. This change was working decisively in Harley's 
favour, for the Whigs, with Marlborough and (.odolphm, 
were committed to the complete humiliation of Louis XIV 
and his grandson, Philip of Spain. - 

Building upon these two foundations, the power of the 
throne and the desire for peace, Harley inevitably moved 
nearer the Tories. They were quite ready to receive him ; 
they probably hoped that the malevolence of the triumphant 
party must purge the fallen minister of his W^higgism.'^ The 
Whigs indeed were enjoying a crescendo of power. The 
attempted Jacobite invasion of March, 1708, worked strongly 
in their favour; while their own credit was raised by its 
failure, they were able to brand the Tories with the stigma 
of treason. They had captured the government; the utter- 
ance of the Queen under the stress of danger seemed con- 
firmation of their claim to be the court party,^ and in 
the elections of June-July, 1708, they secured a sweeping 
majority. Harley's lieutenant, St. John, was disturbed by 
well-founded fears of his ability to secure a constituency, and 
Mrs. Masham had fallen temporarily under a cloud of dis- 
favour.-' Even Newcastle joined with the Whigs in pressing 
the appointment to office of Somers, and Marlborough and 



1 Marl, to Duchess, 6th May, 1708 (Coxe, II). 

2 Cf. Terms offered by Marl, and Townshend in 1700 (Stanhope). 

3 Lawton to Harley, 27th February, 1707-8 (P. IV); Auditor Harley's 
Memoirs (P. V). 

4 Pari. Hist., VI, 720. 

5 St. John to Harley, ist May, 1708 (Bath, I); Mrs. Masham— Harley, 
i8th April, 1708 (P. IV). 



'ROBIN THE TRICKSTER' 



21 



Godolphin were as clay in the hands of the Junto. In these 
circumstances, the Tory party alone could afford Harley a 
point d'appui; he made overtures to Bromley and promised 
to support him for the Speaker's Chair.* Although divided 
counsels among the Tories decided Bromley not to stand, 
Harley was acting with the Church party when the new Par- 
liament assembled.- The anti-Church policy of the Whigs 
in the naturalisation of aliens drove the High Churchmen 
nearer to Harley, and in September, 1709, even Haversham 
was expressing agreement and support.'* 

But the growth of distrust between the W^higs and Marl- 
borough and Godolphin, and the loosening of the Whig cohe- 
sion, quickened Harley's desire to unite Whig and Tory 
moderates. The action of the Whigs in forcing Somers, 
Wharton, and Orford into office engendered mutual suspi- 
cion between them and the General and Treasurer ; and Sun- 
derland did not scruple to cabal against the government and 
threaten attack on the Prince of Denmark to attain his ends.'* 
Moreover, the Whig party was suffering defection from its 
own ranks. Somerset had joined in bringing down Harley, 
but now set up to play Harley's part himself, and maintained 
an ostentatiously independent attitude."' In these favourable 
circumstances, Harley did not intend to play a merely Tory 
game ; he had placed his hopes also in the Whigs, Newcastle 
and Shrewsbury. During 1708 his old relations with Shrews- 
bury were renewed on a more concrete basis. Despite Shrews- 
bury's subsequent disclaimer, there can be little doubt that he 
desired office once more^ ; the Whig refusal of the Lord Lieu- 
tenancy of Ireland inclined him the more to Harley's sug- 

i Bromley to Harley, i8th September, 1708 (P. IV); Harley — Har- 
cuurt, 1 6th October, 1708 (Bath). 

2 Pari. Hist., VI, 745 (Note from Tindal). 

•' Haversham — Harley, 15th September, 1709 (P. IV). 

4 Coxe, II, LXVII : Sunderland— Somers, 8th August, 1709 (Hard- 
wicke Papers). 

'' Harley — Newcastle, 15th September, 1709 (P. II). 

6 Shrews. — Harley, 22nd July, 1710 (Bath). 



■> » 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



ROBIN THE TRICKSTER' 



23 



gestions, and lie entered into negotiations with Harcourt and 
other Tory moderates.' He moved away from the Whig- 
attitude to the war, and was finally convinced of the neces- 
sity of peace." 

At the end of 1709, the forces, so carefully nursed by Har- 
ley, that were working against the government began to 
close in upon their prey. In the autumn, Marlborough, con- 
scious of his insecurity, acting against the advice of his Whig 
colleagues, requested Anne to make him captain-general for 
life, but she emphatically refused a request that conjured up 
in her eyes the spectacle of military dictatorship. The con- 
sequent ill-feeling was aggravated when she demanded a 
regiment for Mrs. Masham's brother, Colonel Hill, who had 
acted as intedmediary for Harley.' Marlborough refused to 
comply, and determined to resign unless Mrs. Masham re- 
tired.* Sunderland supported him, but Somers, Cow^per and 
the less extreme section refused to go so far, and (iodolphin 
adopted their views. The result was a real division between 
every element in the government, Marlborough, (iodolphhi, 
moderate and violent WMiigs. Anne conceived a deep dis- 
trust of the general ; the circumstances of her beloved hus- 
band's death had left an undying rancour against the Whigs, 
while the unfortunate (iodolphin, long dominated by the 
Junto, was being ground between the upper and nether mill- 
stones. The sheet anchor of government had been cut from 
the Wliig vessel. 

In the open seas of national opinion, a storm had been 
gradually brewing. The tremendous losses at Malplaquet, 
the abortive operations in Spain, and the insistence upon im- 
possible terms at dertruydenberg, swelled the rising tide of 
antagonism to the war ; by the terms of the recent Barrier 

1 Cunningham, II (ciied by Coxe, III, 59) : Shrews.— Harlcy, 6th May, 
1708 (Bath). 

2 Shrews.— Harley, 3rd November, 1709 (Bath). 

3 Mrs. Masham— Harley, 27th July, 1708 (F. IV). 
•t Coxe, III, 7 sqq. 



Treaty, the Wliigs seemed ready to sink the interests of 
England rather than recede from the policy to which they 
had committed themselves. In addition, the Tories had im- 
proved the circumstances of the Bill facilitating alien naturali- 
sation to accuse the Whigs of attacking the Church ; and 
this imputation was readily received by a populace murmur- 
ing at the extensive charity granted to foreigners when there 
was so little to spare for native poverty. The impeachment 
of Sacheverell burst this lowering cloud of discontent, and 
the accumulated anger of a tax-burdened people overflowed in 
a torrent of indignation. In the attitude it adopted towards 
SacheverelTs fiery sermons the government displayed its 
chaotic condition. The Queen was averse from any prosecu- 
tion, Somers advised procedure by Common Law, while 
Cfodolphin insisted upon impeachment.^ He carried his point, 
but his mistake soon became apparent ; the mobs howled for 
Sacheverell and reviled the Wliigs ; the Queen hardly con- 
cealed her sympathy, and Sacheverell's virtual acquittal was 
acclaimed with universal rejoicing.- The Whig vessel had 
caught on the shoals of national displeasure and its destruc- 
tion could not long be postponed. 

Harley had not mistaken the significance of this impeach- 
ment. Despite his aversion from the High Church doc- 
trines of Sacheverell,' he threw all his weight against the 
impeachment ; he led the Opposition in the Commons, and his 
friend Simon Harcourt conducted Sacheverell's defence in 
Westminster Hall.' He was also active in a less visible 
manner; his influence determined Shrewsbury's opposition, 
and brought over Argyle, while hopes were entertained of 
Somerset also.^ All this time he had been working hard be- 

1 Aud. Harley 's Memoirs (P. V); Coxe, III, 4; Burnett, V, 429; Stan- 
hope, II, 132. 

- Abigail to Kd. Harley, 2nd xMarch, 1709-10; Knight to Rob. Harley, 
4th .April, 1 7 10 (P. IV). 

3 Aud. Harley 's Memoir (P. V). 

4 Cf. Stanhope — Anne, II, 138-42. 

^ Burnet, V, 440 : Orrery-Marley, 14th March, 1710 (P. IV). 



24 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



neath the surface, translating minor jealousies into opposi- 
tion, detaching waverers from the government, and winning 
time-servers anxious to escape from the sinking ship. The 
Sachevereil agitation crowned his destructive work^ ; but 
extreme care was necessary to press home the advance. 
Under direct attack the government would resign en bloc. 
This meant financial disaster, for the Whigs controlled credit, 
and danger to the existence of the Grand Alliance, from the 
withdrawal of Marlborough and the loss of subsidies : all 
moderates would take alarm, and support the government 
upon which national safety depended. Harley had therefore 
to mask his attack and capture the government in detail ; 
and his work in the ensuing months reveals him as a master 
of backstairs intrigue and political management. 

His influence with the Queen was the chief weapon in his 
armoury. He had subtly played upon her natural prejudices, 
and her bias against the Whigs had been nourished by their 
tyranny into implacable hostility.- Through her, he tested 
the resistance of the government by the appointment of 
Rivers to be Constable of the Tower in January, 17 10 : Rivers 
was a dissident Wliig whom Harley had won over to his alle- 
giance, and the absence of opposition to his appointment 
showed how engrossed each member of the government was 
in watching his own interests. The apprehensions of the 
Whigs were increased by the violent behaviour of the Duchess 
of Marlborough ; her iinal interview with the Queen on 
April 6th, 1710, was a patent declaration that the Churchill 
interest was discredited.* Harley deemed the occasion oppor- 
tune for his first blow. On April 13th Anne bestowed upon 
Shrewsbury the otlice of Lord Chamberlain, vacated by Kent 
on the promise of a dukedom.'^ The value of Shrewsbury 



1 Bromley — Charlett, ist July, 1710 (Ballard, 38, p. 147). 
- Mrs. Masham to Harley, 21st July, 1708 (P. IV). 
T Coxe, III, LXXXIX. 
* Queen to Godolphin, i3ih April, 1710 (Coxe, III). 



'ROBIN THE TRICKSTER' 



2$ 



to Harley was at once apparent. His accommodating dispo- 
sition, fascinating address, and court experience made him 
congenial to the Queen, while these qualities assisted the 
appeal of his past connections to disarm the opposition of the 
Whigs.' He had so long held aloof from party ties that his 
intentions were unknown ; he made overtures to Marlborough, 
(iodolphin, and the Wliigs, and by professions of service left 
them all in hope that he would ultimately stand with them.- 

With Shrewsbury established in the enemy's camp, Harley 
began to work upon their disintegrating forces ; it was 
always his wish to enlist the moderate W^higs in his own 
ranks. Somerset had secured a Parliamentary following to 
be reckoned with, and his attitude expressed a desire to pose 
as the final arbiter of power. Shrewsbury's overtures natur- 
ally flattered this conception of his importance ; he fell in 
with Harley 's plans, met Harley himself, and was regarded 
as acting with him.'* Upon Halifax, alienated from Marl- 
borough and (iodolphin by the appointment of Townshend 
as pleiiipotentiary in 1709, Shrewsbury's conciliatory address 
had great effect, and Halifax was quite ready to come to an 
agreement with Harley.^ Argyle and his brother had been 
gained by Harley's attentions; Somers, who had fallen away 
from Sunderland, and was playing an interested game, re- 
ceived grants from the secret service fund.^ 

Having thus undermined Sunderland's position, Harley 
delivered the decisive blow, but his tactics had been so suc- 
cessful that the government had no certain knowledge whence 
it originated. Shrewsbury's assertion that he was trying to 
prevent it deceived (iodolphin, who was inclined to attribute 
the chief blame to Somerset and Rivers.*^ When the prospect 

« Coxe, III, 63. 

2 God. — Marl., 20th April, i6th May, 1710 (Coxe, III). 
■' Somerset — Harley, 24th May, 1710 (P. IV); God. — Marl., 17th April, 
1710 (Coxe III). 

* Coxe, III, 380: Halifax-Harley, 1709-10 (P. IV, passim). 

■* Record Office MSS. (cited by Leadam, 160). 

6 God. — Marl, 29th May, to Duchess, ist June, 1710 (Coxe, III). 



26 



IHH STAxXHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



of Suiideriand's fail became known, all the leading Whigs 
hastened to secure themselves and entered into negotiations 
with Harley, who received them with avidity. Sunderland 
retained oflice until a successor could be found ; Poulett, for 
whom Harley wished, declined,' and on June 14th, Dart- 
mouth, a moderate Hanoverian Tory, became Secretary in 
place of Sunderland. Harley 's preparations bore full fruit 
when a meeting of the ministers of the government acquiesced 
in this loss and urged Marlborough to continue in his com- 
mand. 

The last objective was (iodolphin ; his fall was patently 
imminent and would not require much tactical preparation. 
Harley was, however, fully occupied in the ensuing months 
with innumerable negotiations, for the fall of (iodolphin 
would leave the way open for a ministry such as Harley had 
designed to create in 1707. Once again the stage seemed 
set for the realisation of his hopes; the unity of the Whigs 
was gone, and their leading men were courting Harley, while 
the Tories had long looked to him for a lead. His ideal of 
a moderate party grouped round the throne would appeal to 
Tory loyalty; his influence with Anne, and the position she 
was to occupy in his ideal formed an interest which, by its 
appeal to their cupidity, might gain the leading Whigs. Hali- 
fax liad assisted in overturning Sunderland" ; Boyle, Somers 
and Cowper were all free from violent principles. Newcastle's 
attitude seemed to tend to independence ; yet moderation was 
the basis of his policy, and he readily lent his influence to 
negotiations with Somers, Cowper and Halifax.^ 

But no tangible agreement issued from this maze of nego- 
tiation. Cowper and Halifax would not come down to parti- 
culars, while Somers was playing his own game and hoped 
to head a ministry himself.^ On the other hand, Harley had 

» Poulett— Harley, 7th June, 1710 (P. IV). 
- Duchess— Maynwaring, ist June, 1710 (Coxe, 111). 
' Harley— A. Moore, 19th June, i;io; Monckton— Harley, 2nd August 
(P. IV). 

4 Harley— Newcastle, 5th August, 1710 (P. II). 



'ROBIN THE TRICKSTER' 



27 



to consider the Tories ; they were becoming restless at these 
advances to Whigs, and even a moderate like Poulett urged 
that they must not be alienated.' Unless he was to fall be- 
tween two stools, as in 1708, he must assure himself of Par- 
liamentary support; the Whigs would make no definite 
promises, sure that he must accept their terms because they 
controlled the financial stability of the government; hence 
Harley leant to the Tory views, and declared in favour of dis- 
solution.- Against this, the Whigs were at once in opposition, 
for a Tory majority was practically certain ; dissolution was 
the rock upon which Harley 's W^hig hopes foundered. At the 
rumour of dissolution, however, Godolphin determined to re- 
sign. ' Fearing that this firmness would be followed by 
Marlborough and the Whigs, Harley determined to oust 
(.odolphin first. He was dismissed on 8th August, and the 
Treasury put into commission, with Poulett its nominal and 
Harley, Chancellor of the Exchequer, its real head. For this 
measure, the Whigs were unprepared, their disunion killed all 
shadow of resistance, and Godolphin himself urged Marl- 
borough to continue.^ 

Harley had now reached a point beyond which he did not 
wish to go. His aim was to continue Somers, Cowper, Hali- 
fax and the Whig moderates in office,' and Marlborough in 
his (M^mmand ; it would be necessary to infuse into the 
administration some new Tory blood, but he had hoped to be 
able to carry on with the same Parliament.'^ To Newcastle 
he outlined his policy as ' making an honourable and safe 
peace, securing her allies, reserving the liberty and property 
of the subject in general, and the indulgence to Dissenters in 
particular, and to perpetuate this by really securing the suc- 

J Puulf 11— Harley, jih June, 1710 (P. IV). 

- Cowper— Newcastle, 15th July, 1710 (P. II). 

■•» God.— Marl., 31st July, 1710 (Coxe, III). 

4 God.— Marl., 9th August, 1710 (Coxe, III). 

^ Halifax and Harley to Newcastle, 6th September, 1710 (P H). 

6 Onslow. Note to Burnet, VI, 11. 



28 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



'ROBIN THE TRICKSTER' 



29 



cession of the House of Hanover," and he assured Cowper 
and Halifax that 'a Whig game was intended at bottom.'- 
But the difiiculties that had already hindered agreement now 
had greater force ; the Whigs would not promise definite Par- 
liamentary support.^ As the obstacle to dissolution had now 
been removed, Hariey resolved to unite more closely with the 
Church party, and during August reached close agreement 
with Rochester.* Newcastle left town and negotiations with 
the Whigs flagged ; Monckton, who voiced his opinions, 
urged Hariey not to give way to the Tories, while in early 
September, Somerset repudiated the idea of dissolution and 
declared himself a firm Whig.^ Hariey had no choice but to 
unite with the only party that would support him ; to hesitate 
was to court disaster, for the more zealous Churchmen were 
already angry at his dalliance.^ The Whig ministers resigned 
and were replaced by Tories ; Rochester succeeded to Somers 
as Lord President, Buckingham to Devonshire as Lord 
Steward, Ormonde to Wharton as Lord-Lieutenant of Ire- 
land, and St. John to Boyle as Secretary of State; Leake 
was installed at the Admiralty, and Harcourt became Lord 
Keeper. On September 21st, Parliament was dissolved, and 
in the ensuing elections the Tories returned a triumphant 

majority. 

This result had gone far beyond Hariey 's wishes. The 
attempt to realise his ideal of ' the exercise of power without 
regard to parties '^ had ended in giving over power to the 

1 Hariey— Newcastle, loth August, 1710 (P. II). 

- Cf. Stanhope, 11, 169. 

•5 Newcastle— Halifax, 12th August, 1710 (P. II). 

* Joanna Cutts to N., August, 1710 (Frankland— Russell— Astley). 

^=* Somers— Newcastle, 8th August, 1710 (P. II); Monckton, 26th 
August, and Lewis, nth September— Hariey, 1710 (P. IV). 

6 Bromley— Charlett, 12th August, 1710 (Ballard MSS, 35, p. 150); 
Aud. Hariey 's Memoir (P. V). 

7 Hariey— Newcastle, 14th September, 1710 (P. II). 



Tory party. Yet this was due to no omission on Hariey 's 
part. He had worked from the first to include as many 
W^iigs as possible ; he had gone far in conceding principle 
to gain this end, but all advances had been nullified by the 
Whigs. ^ Although Walpole and Cowper remained in office, 
they were soon to resign ; the Whigs, persuaded, it is said 
by Wharton, were convinced that Hariey could not shoulder 
the crushing financial burden they could do so much to 
increase.- Thus, 'against his inclination and principles,' 
Hariey was committed to the Tory party; if he were still to 
pursue his ideal, he must reckon with the forces upon which 
his power was based. 

1 Hariey- Newcastle, loth August, 1710 (P. II). 

2 Burnet, VI, u (Onslow's note); Aud. Hnrley's Memoir (P. V). 



I 



EARL OF OXFORD 



31 



Chapter IV 



EARL OF OXFORD, LORD HIGH TREASURER 

OF ENGLAND 



The position of Harley at the openin^r of the new Parlia- 
ment, November 2Sth, 1710, was far from enviable. Public 
finance was in a chaotic state ; the Exchequer was empty, the 
Civil List was burdened with a debt of over half a million, 
and pay for 250,000 men had to be found ; behind this dark 
prospect loomed an unfunded debt of nine and a half millions 
The difficulties were increased by Whi^ manipulation of 
credit ag-ainst the g-overnment ; public securities fell at an 
alarming rate, and it seemed that only the Whigs could re- 
store confidence. 1 Apart from the magnitude of his task, 
Harlev had no little cause for uneasiness. The preponder- 
ance of the Tories was too great for safety ; their animosity 
against the late ministry was unrestrained, and it woukl be 
extremelv difficult to keep them from devastating reprisals. 
The attitude of St. John added to Harley's anxiety ; his pro- 
nounced svmpathv with the Tories was of evil presage for 
Harley 's desire to curb their violence. On the other side, the 
Whigs were convinced that Harley could not overcome these 
difl^culties and held aloof from a losing cause.- Surrender 
to the Tories seemed the only alternative to failure ; and sur- 
render meant the sacrifice of his dearest principles. 

1 Drummond to Harley, 28th Octobor, 1710 (P. TV): Ami. Harloy's 
Momoir (P. V) : Stella, 26th October (p. 40). 

2 Burnet, VI. 11, Onslow's note: Stella. 28th October (p. 42); De 
Poe — Ripven Opinions, pp. 30-4). 



From this precarious situation, Harley extricated himself 
with g-reat skill ; his management of this session of Parlia- 
ment is an eloquent testimony to his ability, and a trenchant 
( ommentary upon the oft-recurring statement that he lacked 
the qualities of leadership.' Before the session opened, he 
threw down the gauntlet to the Tory extremists- ; in the 
Queen's Speech at the opening, he proclaimed moderation as 
the watchword of the government ; there was to be no sudden 
break with past policy, but it was to be adapted to the needs 
of peace, the fundamental principles of Union, Toleration, 
and Succession being maintainecf inviolate.'' The Queen's 
attitude reinforced this pronouncement ; in October, she had 
objected to the expression ' divine right ' occurring in an 
address; she was keenly opposed to Nottingham, and ex- 
pressed surprise when Cowper resigned the seals.'' Marl- 
borough was persuaded to remain in his post, and the neces- 
sary supplies of six millions were cheerfully voted for the 
vigorous prosecution of the war. The Exchequer was filled 
by two lotteries which brought in three and a half millions ; 
and public credit revived with the swing of opinion, upon 
which the Queen's speech had created a favourable impres- 
sion. ' The report in April of the committee on the occounts 
of the late administration assisted this revulsion of feeling; 
the announcement of defalcations sufficed to discredit the 
Whig ministry. Finally, Harley worked steadily to cope 
with the outstanding debt, upon a scheme possibly submitted 
by Defoe.^ On May 2nd, 171 1, his plan was submitted to 
the (^ommons ; by it, creditors were to receive a funded in- 
terest of 6 per cent., they were incorporated as a company to 

1 Macaulay, Lecky, McCarthy, &c. 

2 Aud. Harley 's Memoirs (P. V). 

■'' Chandler, IV, 169-70. 

4 Shrews, to Harley, 20th October, 1710 (Bath T) ; Burnet VI, 9 (Dart- 
mouth's note), II (Onslow's note). 

5 Swift — History of Four Last Years, X, 98. 

6 Rowney— Charlett, 8th February, 1710-11 (Ballard MSS., 38, 
p. 191): De Foe— Harley, 1710-11 (P. IV, passim). 



I 



32 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



EARI. OF OXFORD 



33 



trade with the South Seas, and assig^ned a monopoly of the 
trade in that re^non. The latter part of the scheme was a 
link with the past, but nevertheless was not chimerical ; the 
trade that j-rew out of the Peace of Utrecht was a very valu- 
able asset, and the company flourished until destroyed by 
causes largely extraneous. Whatever its intrinsic merits, it 
met a pressing necessity and was favourably received.' 

While Harley was thus dealing with the administrative 
problems, partV difficulties soon raised their head Tory 
pressure was apparent throughout the session.- The Fro- 
pertv Qualification Bill, the constitution of various com- 
mittees, the attempted Place and Resumption Bil s, all 
showed that the Tory majoritv was burning for a policy of 
Mliurou^.' Iiviignant at Harley's restraint, the extreme 
Tories un<lcr .\otlin|Lrl».'im rvcruitH the Octolx^r Club nnci 
pr* lit^llv wein into oixpusilMWi* ; jih ll>cy numbered c«isMlrr- 
!.hlv o%i>r one hun<lrci!» Harlry's position hcramtf inMH^urc. 
Sl.'john .nI-<o wi*.hc<! fur iiKxre <»e*!i»ivc ;*rtion. RcibsmK il^i 
Marlbtxrnugh w;i.h neocssary until pp;uf wu<. in sight. Harley 
dkl his bf5t 10 vixirk uilh him, but St. John treated llic 
irtiwrtil with coiilumelv and uff^cxl upon Harley a plan fa 
Iwcak him uttetlv.* He wa5., murrovrr. ulkn^ted bv Har- 
ley's <lcarmi:s with the Whi>r^. Impresi.rd by Harley R able 
adminUt ration and by bif efforl^ to keijp tlie Torn-s in check, 
modir^te Whiles like Covi|XV an<l Halifax, who had earlier 
reieeted bis »d\'amx^. were now moie favouraWy di>poMMl. 
Halifax c*peciallv adopted a more friendlv tone; HarUy ckh\' 
sidled him as to the lottery issues. an<l was prepared to go far 
to enlist his support.* 

1(1. Jr. IV. «ofl:Cox. HI, C. I. 

2 Stella. 7tli JMMIMT* 1710-11 (IK V). -^ , „, ,, ^^^..^.^ 

y /^nl., iR!li Ffhruary, iTio-ii (p. i»j); Bormt, VI, ^. ii>artmoulfc< 

* "^i HarVTw-Uftimmofv^ -»»» Sort^mhr ; Sf. J<**— H:irl.-». i?th Unii- 

,iry, 1710-11 (P. IV|. ri.. .1. 

4 ll*rky— N<wx:i«lK 15th AuRuw nnd ixth S^prfn.hrr. 1710 U • **»• 
«$t(4U, 27%h NcTtitnber. 1710 <p. 6i); HolMnx— Hnrt^y. nth Fd 

notrj, 1710-11 <r. IV). 



i 



\ 



Vth- 



These overtures sliarpeneil the ainagoni>,m of the October 
Club, and the foundations of Harley's power were crumbling 
beneath his feet, when an allempt to assa>^sinate him restored 
his declining inlluence. ' (iuiscard, a French emigre who had 
been employed by the government, was detected by Harley 
in treasonous correspondence, and at his instance was appro 
hended. During examination at Whitehall on March 8th, 
171 1, he stabbed liarley in the breast. The wounded 
minister displayed great fortitude; he was carried home, but 
found to be in no serious danger. For several weeks he was 
confined in a sick-bed ; and when he emerged, he was the 
centre of national interest.'* 

The effects of this incident were decisive in the tug-of-war 
between Harley and the Tories. Swift in the ' Kxaminer * 
lauiknl him to ark .idmiring nation as the iinglishman France 
feared most.^ In bi^ abMrncv from Parltanvcni, bis real value 
in nwxleraiing fitctNMi hsMi become manifest.* TTie To>ri<r> 
bati presseil on the Resumption Bill aiul so deU><Hi supplier 
that tli<t yucrn ad<)ressed the Commons * lo haMcn your con- 
sulta(to<is aboul all the publ»c concerns.*' Unrestrained by 
1-1 ar Icy, St. John had |;iven rein to his Tory ilesires. ami 
biirrtc<t on the CanadUm expirdition, to which Harley was 
opposed.* He had ;itteinpled to make capital for himself out 
of (iui5<!anr5; attack, an<l w;i^ beginning to lean his vi>cigtit 
against Harley/ Hut all n>o<lerate» looked towards tlie 
latter : i^oulett. .NeweaMle. Somcrs ;ind Halifax joined in 
urging Harley to assert his power. At tJtc en<l oi May he 

* StvUji, 4Ch March, iji^*!! (p. 131). 

> PiouNt and Halifax to lUrky. iSOi April, 1711 (P. IV). 
' C/. LcxKt cited by De Foe— likvcii OpanUmt {\h «^ 

* Stcllu. iith M*rcli, i;'io>jt (p. 13^). 
» P.H. H'm- VI, 1045. 

* Awi. Hart?y*5 M<molr (!'. Vj, 

' Simtfofii— Ufd Harky, lith Apcfl. 1711 (l». VII); Burner. VI, m 
{Ottkfn\ Null:) : l>« Kcr (faiHm), 



34 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



became Earl of Oxford and received from the Queen the 
Treasurer's staff. The promotions made on the death of 
Rochester (May) were a triumph for the supporters of modera- 
tion ; Benson, Mansell and Foley, Dartmouth and Poulett, 
these were names intimately associated with Harley's middle 
policy. St. John's fall was in the air, while Marlborough 
expressed satisfaction at Harley's support.^ Harleyism was 
in the ascendant over Toryism. - 

it was a short-lived triumph. As in 1707-8 the war had 
frustrated Harley's efforts to win Marlborough to his policy, 
so in 171 1 peace dashed his hopes of conciliating moderate 
Whig support. The ministry was pledged to the conclusion 
of peace; the Tory majoiity, St. John, Shrewsbury and Har- 
ley were alike opposed to the continuation of a war in which, 
as Marlborough himself admitted, ' besides the draining our 
nation both of men and money, almost to the last extremity, 
our allies do, by degrees, so shift the burden of the war upon 
us that . . . the whole charge must at last fall on England.'' 
The failures of 17 10 in wSpain confirmed the ministers in their 
belief that the Archduke Charles could never be established 
there as king ; the behaviour of the allies showed that with 
the breaking of the French power selfish cupidity had ob- 
literated zeal for any common cause. The attitude of Holland 
and the Empire and the opinions of Marlborough made it 
impossible to negotiate tluough the regular diplomatic chan- 
nels ; yet a vigorous continuance of the war, which the re- 
tention of Marlborough could alone secure, was necessary to 
give weight to any demands that the ministry should make. 
Hence overtures were made in secret through the Abbe 
Gaultier, a connection of the Earl of Jersey, and definite 
proposals were formulated. They were accepted in April, 
171 1 ; in July Prior was despatched to Paris; he failed to 
obtain acceptance of his terms, but returned with an envoy 

1 Stella, 27th April, 1711 (p. 164-5); Marl.— Oxford, 29th May, 1711 
(Bath I). 

2 Stella, 5th June, 171 1 (p. 188). 

3 Marl, to Oxford, October, 171 1 (Coxe, III). 



EARL OF OXFORD 



35 



I 
i 



Mesnager, who on September 29th committed Louis to defi- 
nite preliminaries of peace. ^ By these, Anne's title and the 
Succession were acknowledged, Dunkirk was to be dismantled, 
(iibraltar and Port Mahon, Newfoundland and Hudson's Bay 
to be ceded to Britain, with the Asiento and a commercial 
treaty with France ; the interests of the allies were secured 
by stipulations for a barrier for the Dutch, satisfaction for 
the Empire, and measures to prevent the union of the Bour- 
bon (Towns under one head.'-' 

While these negotiations were in progress, Oxford was 
trying to consolidate these moderate forces that had rallied 
round him after the Guiscard incident. His relations with 
Marlborough grew more friendly ; with Halifax, he main- 
tained a close correspondence, and through him was in touch 
with Somers.'^ The publication of the preliminaries, how- 
ever, at the instance of the Imperial envoy, Gallas, inter- 
posed an insuperable barrier to agreement. Oxford did his 
utmost to win their acquiescence, and the Queen had per- 
sonal interviews with Marlborough, Somers and Cowper.^ 
But his efforts were of no avail ; Marlborough declared 
against the peace and remonstrated with the Queen ; Halifax 
urged Oxford to abandon the preliminaries and extreme 
Tories together, and drew away, though with regret.^ The 
Whigs were meeting to concert opposition, and Nottingham, 
disappointed in his hopes of office, joined them in an in- 
famous alliance to smash the government.^ 

Their hour seemed to have come. The Tories were indig- 
nant at Oxford's restraint, and warned him against the peril 
from the Whigs. ^ When Nottingham carried his motion of 

1 Prior's Journal, July (P. V). 

- Cf. Stanhope, II, 228-9. 

3 V. Corr. Coxe, III (243-4). Halifax to Oxford, 30th August and 
9th November, 171 1 (P. V). 

* Coxe, III, 270. 

^ Hoi. Corr., V, i, 480 (Coxe) ; Halifax to Oxford, 6th and 26th De- 
cember, 171 1 (P. V). 

6 Davers to Oxford, ist November, 171 1 (P. V). 

^ Harcourt, 12th November, and Bromley, 25th November, to Oxford 
(P. V). 



3^ 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



'no peace without Spain,' the g^overnment showed signs of 
breaking up. Shrewsbury was dissatisfied and was waver- 
ing ; Dartmouth meditated retreat, and even St. John was 
despondent ; while the position of the Somersets gave rise to 
misgiving about the Queen's sympathies.^ Oxford alone 
remained undismayed. He knew that Anne was anxious for 
peace- ; yet he hesitated to strike, for he was attacking the 
counterpoise to Tory violence. But the safety of the peace 
and of the ministry was in danger; on December 31st Marl- 
borough was dismissed from all his offices, on January ist 
twelve new peers were created, and on January 12th Somer- 
set was dismissed from attendance upon the Queen. ^ 

The government now had a majority in both houses of 
Parliament. It continued its efforts for peace, and on 
January 29th, 17 12, a European congress opened at Utrecht. 
In May came the famous restraining orders ; when the news 
leaked out, there was great indignation in Parliament, which 
Oxford only allayed by an announcement that peace was 
imminent. His hopes were ill-founded, for the French court 
took full advantage of outstanding difficulties. At last, in 
February, 17 13, Shrewsbury, ambassador at Paris, was 
ordered to present an ultimatum^ ; and not until March 31st 
was peace concluded at Utrecht. It was announced to Par- 
liament on April 9th and received with addresses of con- 
gratulation : and the nation at large testified its joy with 
enthusiasm. 

Upon the authors of the peace of Utrecht has been heaped 
the common reproach of neglecting the interests of their 
country. More particularly have Oxford and Bolingbroke^ 
been blamed for the methods whereby peace was obtained, for 
although the predominating share was taken by Bolingbroke, 

1 Coxe, III, 275, Swift— Stella, 8th-ioth December (p. 295-8). 
- Ibid., loth December (p. 298). Anne to Oxford, September (P. V, 
passim). 

3 Rowney— Charlett, January, 1711-12 (Ballard, 38, p. 193). 

4 Bol. to Shrewsbury, 19th February, 1712-3 (Hardwick, II). 
^ St. John had been created Viscount Bolingbroke in 1712. 



EARL OF OXFORD 



Oxford as leader of the government was no less responsible. 
Yet the financial straits of the country made peace necessary ; 
the advantages Great Britain obtained were substantial and 
of immense value to her colonial development ; and if the terms 
were less than might have been obtained earlier, the fault lies 
with Marlborough and the Whigs, in refusing to recognise 
then that France must remain a great power. The inter- 
minable delays at Utrecht go far to justify the methods ; only 
by pre-arrangement with France could any terms be imposed 
upon the allies. Secrecy was necessary, for the estates of 
Holland were only too ready to treat for a separate peace, and 
open negotiations would have turned each member of the 
drand Alliance into a suppliant for peace at the court of 
Louis, who would thereby have gained terms much more 
favourable.^ The abandonment of the Catalans was a breach 
of political faith, yet the extreme difficulty of bringing matters 
to a head is some extenuation. In general, Swift's * Conduct 
of the Allies ' is an unanswerable argument ; when to it is 
added the precarious situation at home of the ministry, cen- 
sure dies on the lips of the historian and gives place to regret. 

To Oxford the peace was fatal. It nourished the seeds of 
enmity with Bolingbroke ; it brought to the front the problem 
of the succession and aggravated its difficulties ; it split the 
Tory party, made the Whigs intractable, defeated Oxford's 
endeavours to provide for the future, and destroyed the foun- 
dation of his power. The measure by which he hoped to 
blunt the weapons of his opponents, and upon which he was 
firmly to establish a government of moderate principles, itself 
made party passion more violent, estranged his friends, em- 
bittered his enemies, and overwhelmed moderation in a clash 
of hatreds. 

The divergence of St. John had received a decided check 
in 171 1 when Oxford, 'grown by persecutions, turning out 
and stabbing,'- had engaged the support of all moderates. 



1 Cf. Cjod. to ? 17th December, 1710 (Add. MSS., 28055, P- 434)- 

2 Swift's Stella, 22nd May, 171 1 (p. 180). 



But the preliminaries alienated the Whigs and threw Oxford 
back upon the Tories; the events of the winter of 1711-12 
reacted decisively in favour of the latter. St. John had 
joined closely with Oxford to defeat the attack upon the 
preliminaries, but when the danger was passed, his aliena- 
tion increased. In June, 17 12, he asked for the earldom of 
Rolingbroke to be revived in his person, and did not conceal 
his annovance when only a viscounty was conceded ; in Sep- 
tember he was further mortified by the award of a Garter to 
Oxford in pointed neglect of his own pretensions.^ He de- 
termined to rallv the Tory partv around him in opposition to 
Oxford's dilatory policy, and the remainder of Anne's reign 
was spent in conflict between the two ministers. 

The fulfilment of the Peace of Utrecht made this at once 
evident. It provided for a commercial treaty with France, 
an integral part of Bolingbroke's Tory foreign policy. Keen 
opposition was immediately displayed ; the Whigs excited 
the indignation of the manufacturing interest against it, 
while the Tories, their opinions divided bv the omnipresent 
succession problem, were far from unanimous in support. 
The outcry was loud and prolonged ; and it was evident that 
the passage of the Bill would be attended by great disturb- 
ance. ^ Bolingbroke was zealous in support and urged Ox- 
ford to secure victory for the government.^ But the measure 
had become mainly a party question, and the ideas that deter- 
mined Oxford's attitude were by no means so single as in 
the case of Bolingbroke. Despite the rupture caused by the 
peace preliminaries, Oxford had not abandoned his attempts 
to comprehend all moderates. In September and October he 
was using De Foe to convince public opinion throughout the 
provinces that moderation prevailed in the government coun- 

1 St. John to Oxford. 28th June, 3rd July, 1713 (P- V); Oxford's 
Account, 15th June, 171 4 (ibid.). 

2 T. Rowney— Chnrlett, nth June, 1713 (Ballard MSS., 38. p. 104)- 
« Bol. to Oxford, June, 1713 (P. V). 



EARL OF OXFORD 



39 



sels.^ In December, Halifax, realizing that peace must be 
accepted and probably hoping to influence it according to his 
own views, assured Oxford of his desire to work with him. 
Throughout the winter of 17 12-3 Oxford was in close touch 
with Halifax,- who held out hopes that Somers might oome 
in. When the treaty of commence became known, Halifax 
made an ofl^er of definite support from his group, if Oxford 
would oppose that ' wild proceeding. '•' After the Bill had 
been committed, Hanmer, a Hanoverian Tory prominent in 
the Commons, declared his opposition ; his following of 
moderate October men was considerable and, as later ap- 
peared, sufficient to turn the balance aganist the Bill. For 
Oxford, therefore, to press the treaty was to abandon all his 
efl'orts to gain Whig support and in addition to estrange that 
section of the Tories whose views on the succession were in 
sympathy with his own, while to oppose it offered a good 
opportunity of combining the various elements of resistance 
into the moderate following for which he worked. This 
prima facie evidence supports the written testimony that Ox- 
ford was prepared to leave the matter open and to sacrifice 
the government measure to promote his Parliamentary de- 
sign.^ 

These divided counsels of the leaders ensured defeat for 
the government. Bolingbroke was enraged at Oxford's inde- 
cision and wrote in strong terms ; he insisted upon the neces- 
sity of purging the government of all ' idlers ' — by which he 
meant moderates— and arraigned Oxford for engrossing all 
business in his own hands. He had already in June, 1712, 
secured the appointment of Windham, a personal follower, 
as Secretary at War ; he now pressed for further concessions 



1 De Foe — Oxford, September-October, 171 2 (P. V). 

2 Swift's Stella, 21st March, 171 1 (p. 444). 

^ Halifax — Oxford, 26th December, 171 2, 22nd February, 28th May, 
1713 (P. V). 

4 W. Bishop — Charlott, 20th June, 1713 (Ballard, 31, p. 104); De Foe 
— Account (p. So) ; Boyer, &c. 



40 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



to the Tory rank and file. ^ His violence alienated the moderate 
Dartmouth, and Oxford had to resort to the Queen's per- 
sonal influence to retain the latter in Office. The succession 
problem was splitting- the Tory party, and the stability of the 
government gradually declined. 

Oxford's attitude to the succession was firm and unchang- 
ing ; he was ' entirely and unalterably devoted to the interests 
of his Electoral Highness of Hannover (sic) '.- He worked 
for that interest in the Act of Settlement and with reason 
claimed to have ' had the greatest hand in settling the suc- 
cession.'- During his first tenure of office he had studied 
the advantage of the Elector in dealing with Northern poli- 
tics"' ; on his second accession to office in 1710, he hastened 
to assure the Elector that the late changes entailed no detri- 
ment to the established succession, and despatched Rivers to 
convince the Hanoverian Court of his favourable disposition.* 
When in September, 171 1, the Elector desired to use in 
Hanover his troops in Eng^lish pay, Oxford exerted his influ- 
ence to expedite the concession.' He did not conceal the 
negfotiations for peace from the Elector, and assured him that 
the interests of his family would be secured therein, an 
assurance vindicated in the first articles of the demands at 
Utrecht.® 

But Hanover was decided against the peace ; in -August* 
17 10, Marlborough had implanted suspicions of Harley's 
sincerity, and the Elector took up the extreme attitude of th(» 

1 B0I.— Oxford, 27th July. (P. V). 

2 Oxford to i:)uyv»'nvoordo, i4th-25th April, 1714 (Stowe MSS.. 242, 
p. 04) (B.M.). 

•■» Harley to Schutz, 7th-i8th March, i7of>-7 {ibid.. 221^, p. 35) (B.M.). 

* Harl. to Elector, ist-i2th Novombor. 1710 (ibid., p. 408) (B.M.). 

5 Elector to Oxf., 4th September (p. 146) and 6th October (p. 170), 
Oxf. to Elector, nth September (p. 162) (Stowe MSS., 224 (B.M.). 

« Oxf. to Elector. i6ih October (p. 178); Demands of Gt. Britain at 
Utrecht (p. 274) (ibid.). 



EARL OF OXFORD 



41 



^1 



Whigs with regard to France and Spain. ^ From this differ- 
ence there grew an incurable distrust of Oxford on the part 
of Hanover ; all his assurances of attachment were politely 
shelved, and his every action construed in a hostile manner.- 
This distrust reacted upon Parliamentary opinion ; the deser- 
tion of the Whig Argyll and the Tories Abingdon, Anglesea, 
Hanmer and their ' Whimsicals,' was inspired mainly by 
fears for the succession, while the determination of the Whigs 
was largely rooted in their hopes of the successor. The hos- 
tility of the Elector was skilfully fed by the Whigs ; it was no 
less encouraged by the violent Toryism of Bolingbroke. 
Whatever his real conviction, the attitude of Bolingbroke to 
the succession was based on party considerations ; the Whig 
bias and the hostility of the Hanoverians confirmed him in 
his belief that the Tory party must be strong enough to dic- 
tate terms of any successor. In pursuit of this end, he was 
restrained by no manoeuvring to gain the good opinion of 
Hanover, and his actions gave rise to grave suspicion of 
ministerial Jacobitism. The majority of the Tories were un- 
decided, but many were definitely Hanoverian ; Nottingham, 
Anglesea, Abingdon, Hanmer, Bromley and many others 
tempered their Toryism with attachment to the established 
succession. 

From this chaotic state of the government and the Tories 
resulted the see-saw conflict of the last year of Anne's reign ; 
now Oxford and now Bolingbroke seemed to triumph as the 
equilibrium of the disunited Tories moved with the changing 
interests. Oxford still retained the allegiance of Bromley, 
a guarantee of extensive Church support,'* and in dealing 
with the Parliamentary situation showed himself superior to 
Bolingbroke. In November, the pressure of the Tories 
could no longer be resisted, but even in concession Oxford 
secured his own interests. Although Windham became 

' Marl. — Elector, 30th August, 1710 (Macpherson) ; Elector — Harley, 
7th November (Stowe. 224, p. 214b), to Bucks, 7th November (Macpher- 
son). 

2 Robethon — l)e Grote (Macpherson, /)a.<rWm). 

•'' Stratford to Harley, 18th and 21SI June, 21st July, 1713 (P. VII). 



42 



THK STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



EARL OF OXFORD 



43 



Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dartmouth took the Privy Seal, 
and was succeeded as Secretary by Bromley, while the ap- 
pointments of Mar as Secretary and Findlater as Chancellor 
of Scotland were rebuffs for Bolingbroke and Harcourt.' 
Ang-lesea drew nearer to Oxford in hostility to Bolingbroke, 
and Hanmer was induced to stand for the Speaker's Chair ; 
the Whimsicals were standing for moderation. - 

in iJecember, 1713, the Queen fell dangerously ill; the 
ministry were fearful of her death, and the Whigs openly 
rejoiced at the prospect. During this period, Oxford was 
absent from his post ; the death in November of his favourite 
daughter. Lady Carmarthen, accentuated the decline in his 
health, and the intermittent illness with which from now on 
he was constantly troubled did much to impair the force of 
his actions and to emphasise his innate tendency to indecision 
and delay.' The fears induced by this crisis revealed the 
fatal unpreparedness of the ministry and the perilous situa- 
tion of the Tory party. The demoralising effects of Ox- 
ford's moderating policy were but too apparent; his over- 
throw was essential, if Bolingbroke was to secure the Tory 
future. But Bolingbroke's Parliamentary position was too 
uncertain to permit open attack upon the Treasurer, and he 
worked to deprive him of the Queen's favour. 

In this ministerial struggle, the character of the Queen 
was a central factor. She was greatly subject to external 
influence and had little individual personality ; but she was 
none the less a Stuart, intensely stubborn in personal rela- 
tions. Easily led, she would not be driven, and to discount 
her influence upon the events of her reign is to read them 
unhistorically. Swift constantly recurs to an intractable 

1 Lewis to Dartmouth, loth September, 1713 (Dartmouth); Oxford's 
Account of Public Affairs, 15th June, 171 4 (P. V). 

2 Schutz— Robethon, 22nd September, 1713 (Macpherson) ; Bromley to 
Oxford, 2ist July and August c)th, 1713 (P. V); W. Bisho|3— Charhnt, 
25th and 30th June (Ballard, 31, p. 105-6). 

^ Swift. Consequences hoped and feared from death of Queen ; V, 

423-4- 



wilfulness in her dealings with Oxford, and reveals her un- 
warrantable delays as the real reason for much of his alleged 
dilatoriness. In her attitude to the succession she was ani- 
mated by a feminine perversity worthy of Queen Elizabeth. 
Upon a real conviction of the necessity of the Hanoverian 
succession, against which there is no substantial evidence, 
she superimposed a cold aloofness to the persons of the Elec- 
toral house, that grew to positive aversion as their succession 
drew nearer. Upon these prejudices Bolingbroke played with 
no little success and seriously undermined the strength of 
Oxford's influence. Bolingbroke had this great advantage 
over his rival ; he shared the Queen's antipathy to the Hano- 
verians and was prepared to humour her whims to any extent, 
while Oxford was firm in support of the Hanoverians, and 
had to steer a hazardous course between the Scylla of Hano- 
verian and the Charybdis of royal disfavour. The Queen 
had hitherto professed Oxford's moderating principles, but 
the revelation of Whig anxiety for her death impelled her to 
more extreme Toryism.^ Moreover, Bolingbroke had a 
powerful ally in Mrs. Masham ; whether from avarice, 
Jacobitism, or both, she had been alienated from Oxford, and 
the help she had given him was henceforth at the service of 
his adversary.^ Over Parliament, however, Oxford's con- 
trol was strong enough to suffer a serious reverse without 
being dislodged. It was obvious that the new Parliament 
would require careful handling ; before the session began the 
* rank ' Tories declared their enmity to the Treasurer.^ In 
March, to counter the Whig motions to secure the succession, 
lie proposed to introduce a Bill making it high treason to 
bring foreign troops into the kingdom. Bolingbroke at once 
rose to ridicule it ; he pointed out that by existing law it 
was treason for the adherents of the Pretender to land, and 



1 Swift. Enquiry into l)ehaviour of Queen's Last Ministry, V, 451. 
- Aud. Harley's Memoirs (P. V); Macpherson, History; Leadam. 
■' T.B. to T. Gordon, nth February, 1713-4 (P. V). 



44 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



by implication, discredited the good intention of Oxford.^ 
It was a declaration of war upon Oxford's Hanoverian policy. 
This had become the Treasurer's main interest; in January, 
he made advances to Schutz, the Hanoverian envoy, and he 
had studied with success to secure the support of Hanmer, 
Anglesea, and the Hanoverian Tories.^ With Bolingbroke's 
dec lared hostility, he now determined to retire, probably re- 
lying upon the strength of these moderate connections to 
force Bolingbroke's hand. His anticipations were realised, 
the Queen refused to part with him and patched up a recon- 
ciliation.'' Anglesea, Hanmer, and Bromley supported him, 
Harcourt urged him to continue, and Bolingbroke was driven 
to assure the Treasurer that he wished him to continue in 
office.^ The rottenness of the government was emphasised 
by a motion that the succession was not in danger. Intro- 
duced in the Lords by the government to check Whig attacks, 
it had a stormy passage ; the Hanoverian Tories voted against 
it, and although the government was victorious, it was by a 
dangerously narrow margin.' If security was to be attained, 
either Oxford or Bolingbroke must go. 

In April, the demand of a writ for the Electoral Prince 
reacted in Bolingbroke's favour. The Queen was furious 
at this manoeuvre ; she demanded the recall of Schutz, the 
envov, and wrote stinging letters to Hanover, declaring un- 
qualified opposition to any unauthorised visit. ^ Oxford had 
already sent his cousin to Hanover to smooth over difficul- 
ties ; he now instructed him to express the Queen's great 
anger and dissuade the Elector from any acceptance of the 

1 Pari. Hist., VI, 1330. 

-Schutz — Robethon, 5th January, iri3-4 (Macphorson ; cf. notes 6, 
p. 40, and I, p. 41). 

^ Schutz — Robethon, -?6th March, 171 4 (Macpherson). 

4 Harcourt. 17th March, Bromley, 21st March, and Bol., 27th March, 
to Oxford (P. V). 

•'• Pari. Hist., VT, i :;35 ; T. Rowney— Charlett, 6th April. 1714 (Bal- 
lard, j,^, p. 107). 

6 19th May, Queen to Hanover (Stowe, 242, pp. 130, 132, 134). 



EARL OP OXEORD 



45 



writ, the grant of which he had advised since he realised it 
could not be refused.^ His conciliatory attitude reinforced 
Bolingbroke's promptings. It is said that the Secretary 
supported the Queen in her desire to refuse the writ" ; it is 
certain he fanned her indignation and represented Oxford's 
restraint in an unfavourable light. 

The urgency of the succession question now worked 
strongly against moderation ; it was forcing all men into one 
of the two party camps. The Whimsicals had gone over to 
the Whigs, and Oxford began to tread the same path. He 
was in close correspondence with Halifax and Cowper, who 
urged him to escape from his uncomfortable position by join- 
ing with the Whigs, and a Whimsical-Whig alliance under 
Oxford threatened to leave Bolingbroke at their mercy.* 
Against this, Bolingbroke stirred up the ecclesiastical fervour 
upon which the Tory power had originally been reared, and 
on May 12th Windham introduced the Schism Bill.* It was 
a master-stroke ; it drew the Tories together, opposed them 
to the Whigs and forced Oxford from his intermediate reli- 
gious position. He was driven to adopt an evasive attitude, 
which diminisiied his favour with both Churchmen and Dis- 
senters. 

The Treasurer was roused to fight for his waning influ- 
ence. ' The articles explanatory of the Commercial Treaty 
with Spain had been subject to suspicious tampering and 
ollered an opening for attack upon the author, Bolingbroke. 
Early in June Harley was preparing to use this against the 
Secretary ; he also declared war upon his adherent, Har- 
court.*^ With Shrewsbury, alienated by Bolingbroke's vio- 



i Oxford to T. Harley, I3th-i4th April (P. V). 

- Gaultier — Torcy, 29th April (Failing, 468). 

' Halifax 8th May, Cowper 14th May, to Oxford (1\ V); Cadogan — 
Bothmar, 15th May (Macpherson). 

4 De Foe — Secret History of White Staflf (I, 33). 

■ Uobson — Charlett, 15th April, 1714 (Ballard, 21, p. 193). 

^ Bol. 3rd June, Harcourt 13th June, to Oxford (P. V). 



46 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



lence, he induced the Queen to issue on June 23rd the procla- 
mation against the Pretender for which Parhament had 
asked.* When the Spanish treaty came up for consideration, 
Oxford led the attack upon the three articles, and Boling- 
broke's safety was imperilled. Many of his transactions as 
Secretary had been of doubtful honesty, and he could not face 
further enquiries. But Oxford's attack could only be main- 
tained in the Parliamentary arena, for the Queen was now 
wholly gained to Holingbroke.- On the 9th July, she pro- 
rogued Parliament, and Oxford's fall was at hand. He was 
in close touch with the Whigs, with Anglesea and Hanmer ; 
he could now have joined the Whigs and secured his position 
for the event of the Queen's death. Despite the imminence 
of his dismissal, he still hoped to create a power from the 
Hanoverians of both parties; Shrewsbury was definitely 
against Bolingbroke, and the Hanoverian Tories were a 
powerful force. To declare for the W^higs was to lose Tory 
support and abandon his guiding principle. Without this 
concrete assurance, the Hanoverian envoy and the Whigs 
would not join with him; when he fell on July 27th he was 
without real support. The magnitude of the succession issues 
imposed an ineluctible decision ; to temporise was to fall. On 
July 31st Anne died and (ieorge 1 was at once proclaimed King. 
All elective opposition had been forestalled by the resolute 
measures of Shrewsbury, and with the quiet accession of the 
King they had made their own, die hopes of the Whig party 
were realised to the full. 

» (ialkt — Robethon, 25th June (Macpherson). 

- Lelttr from a Tarson (after cjih July, 1714) (Fratildand— Russell— 
Astley). 



Chapter V. 



LAST YEARS 



For Oxford, Anne's death meant political extinction. He 
at iirst refused to recognise this, and laboured still to recon- 
struct a moderate government from both parties. He 
possessed the confidence of Shrewsbury, whose appointment 
as Treasurer had confounded Bolingbroke 's High Tory 
schemes ; to Dartmouth he communicated his hopes of 
building up a moderate government, and his efforts at 
comprehension embraced on one side Ormonde and Bromley, 
and on the other the Whigs. ^ The elections, however, 
emphasised that party violence with w^hich his plans had 
neglected to reckon, and the extreme swing of the pendulum 
swept away the airy fabric of moderate counsels. 

The hostility of the Whig majority was soon declared. 
Dishonour was reflected upon the late administration by a 
motion ' that the trade and navigation of England were de- 
stroyed.'" A secret committee was appointed to prepare con- 
crete charges ; when its report was presented, both Oxford 
and Bolingbroke were impeached. The latter had fled to 
France, and his enemies hoped that Oxford would follow 
him.' But his moral courage sustained a consciousness of 
innocence in facing the charge of treason ; he is later reported 
to have said, ' 1 have the Constitution of England and the 
administration of the late Queen to vindicate,' and the words 

' Uuchess Shrews.— Oxford, 30th July, 1714 (Bath I ; Oxford — Dart- 
mouth, 8th, i2th and end August, 1714 (Dartmouth); Feiling. 

2Aud. Harley's Memoir (P. V); Pari. Hist., VII, 47. 

3 Anon. — W. Hayley, nth June, 1715 (P. V). 



48 



THK STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



typify his refusal to disavow his work.^ After some debate 
in the Lords, he was committed to the custody of Black Rod, 
and on July i6th passed into the Tower, amidst a mob which 
shouted for the Church and against the Whigs.- 

There he languished for two years, during which no 
attempt was made to bring him to trial. It is very probable 
that the Whigs were satisfied with his political demise; the 
age of pnjscription had passed away.* In June, 1717, he 
petitioned for trial ; the good ofHces of Shrewsbury, Har- 
court, and all the Tory lords secured a favourable answer ; 
and a day was appointed for trial.* But passions had cooled 
since 1715*; the Whig Schism had divided his accusers, and 
the Commons seized the opportunity oftered by the Lords' 
ruling about procedure to abandon the impeachment. Its 
end was attained by excepting Oxford from the Act of Grace, 
and on July 31st, 17 17, he was acquitted.^ 

For two years after his release he maintained some political 
activity. He attended the debates of the Lords, and his 
opposition to the Mutiny Act shows that he retained his 
original principles unimpaired.^ His last activities were 
directed against the Peerage Bill'^ ; he rallied the Scotch 
peers in opposition and contributed much to reject the 
measure." In this his last achievement he had worked, as 
ever, to secure the interests of the country fr6m the selfish 
devices of faction. But his health, from 171 1 onwards 

I- Mrs.— Capt. Ogilvi.\ j8ih April, 1717 (Stuart, V). 

2 Pari. Hist., VII, 72-107 : Anon.— Ab. Harley, i6tli July, 1715 (P. V). 

3 Ed.— Lord Harley, 25th April, 171b (P. V). 
* Pari. Hist., VII, 461-5. 

•"' Bromley — Charlett, 21st May, 1717 (Ballard. ^S, p. 171). 

6 Pari. Hist., VII, 475-98. 

Uhid., VII, 538. 

8 Ibid., VII, 589-90. 

» Balmarino — Oxford, 13th March, 1718-9 (P. V). 



i 



} 



LAST YEARS 



49 



already failing, had been undermined by his confinement ; his 
correspondence tells of constant illness in the Tower, and 
throughout 172 1 he was confined to his chamber.* His visits 
to London became less frequent. His love of books and 
scholarship absorbed his declining energies, and the last 
years of his life were sweetened amid that family affection 
he valued so highly. On May 21st, 1724, he died, and was 
buried at his family home at Brampton Bryan. 

His character has suffered much from partisan distortion, 
and is somewhat difficult to estimate. Kneller's portrait of 
him shows a smooth unruffled countenance, with an air of 
ease, of geniality, of generosity, yet withal a heavy, solid 
demeanour, suggesting determination, impenetrability, and 
entire self-control. ^ His freedom from fear, cruelty, avarice, 
and pride, his tact and courtesy, the fullness of his friendship 
and absence of all rancour from his enmity evoke the appro- 
bation of contemporaries and historians alike. ^ But in public 
life there is universal testimony to his confused manner of 
speaking, his habitual air of secrecy and innate tendency to 
procrastination.* He was by nature irresolute, for he was 
keenly conscious of the diiffculties of both sides of a question 
and the loss sustained by declaring for either. 

His political significance is also capable of varied interpre- 
tation. He has received in full measure the odium cast by 
all of convinced opinion upon statesmen whose ideas allow 
scope for changing circumstance. Ambition, cunning, hypo- 
crisy and backstairs intrigue are emphasised as the typical 
features of his political career, and self-interest as the sole 
motive. The peculiar circumstances in which he worked 
have indeed made his career only too susceptible of such 
explanation, but while with Harley, as with every other poli- 

1 Oxf. to Parker, 31st October, 1721 (P. V). 

2 Collins — Historical Collections. 

3 Swift— History of Four Last Years, p. 93 ; Macky ; Collins, Lecky, 
I, 168 ; Roscoe. 

* Swift, Spence, Lockhart, Macaulay, Lecky, Wyon, &c, 



5^ 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



I 



tician, the element of selfish motive must be recognised, yet 
the aims and endeavours to which that motive impelled him 
are worthy of a juster appreciation. 

He is a curious blend of the future and the past. His 
political ideas express this complexity ; with a real acknow- 
ledgement of the importance of Parliament, he is yet a true 
royalist. He strove to reconcile the constitutional advance 
of the seventeenth century with the maintenance of royalty in 
substance as well as form ; he sought to combine Parliament, 
I ministry, and an effective royal will into one harmonious 
»whole. Yet he was pursuing an impossible ideal, for the 
\constitutional advance was taking shape as a party system, 
Vvhile Harley's ideal runs across party distinction. His per- 
sistent endeavour to construct a Parliamentary following 
from the moderates of both parties breaks down continually 
before the rising development of party. His ideas explain 
the connection between the two apparently conflicting periods 
of his career; under William, he emphasises the constitu- 
tional side of his programme as he feels that the balance is 
weighed against it, but by the accession of Anne, this is 
secured through the Act of Settlement, and his efforts are 
directed to vindicate the royal element in the Constitution. 
He is unfortunate in that two great questions intensified 
party divisions, the war and the succession ; upon them his 
efforts foundered, the first in 1706-7, the second in 1713-4- 
The succession question was of great importance to him, and 
his attitude to it has been the source of much controversy. 
His correspondence with the Pretender, collected mainly in 
the Stuart Papers, has convinced many of his Jacobitism. 
In one aspect, this may be regarded as but a policy of insur- 
ance common to the leading statesmen. Whig and Tory, of 
the day ; but, more generally, internal evidence gives the 
clue to Harley's intention. As De Foe suggests, Harley kept 
the Jacobites' in play mainly to secure Parliamentary support 
for the great object of his ministry, the peace. As the year 
1714 draws on, he redoubles his efforts to convince St. 
Germains of his sincerity, until in May he offers to send an 



i 



4 



LAST YEARS 



51 



agent^ ; but we can hardly avoid discovering the object in the 
instructions conveyed by Middleton to the English Jacobites. - 
The gradual disillusionment of St. Germains as the crisis of 
the succession draws near and passes is convincing testimony 
to Harlev's real care for Hanoverian interests."^ Moreover, 
the later correspondence confirms the theory that it had no 
deeper end than his immediate interest. In August, 1716, 
his relations with the Jacobites begin to grow more intimate, 
and he is obviously studying to regain the good will of St. 
Germains. Here again it seems fairly evident that his object 
was to gain support in procuring and sustaining a trial, for 
all the English Jacobites were encouraged to assist him in 
that end.'' The continued distrust with which the discerning 
Berwick regarded him gives to this explanation a complete- 
ness that renders it adequate to refute the charge of Jaco- 
bitism. 

In political method, Harley anticipates much of the 
machinery of a later day. He appreciated the power of the 
press and the value of educating public opinion, that in- 
calculable quantity largely ignored by eighteenth century 
politicians."' He enlisted the aid of the ablest pamphleteers 
of the day in support of his government, and Swift's ' Con- 
duct of the Allies ' is sufficient example of the advantage he 
derived therefrom. With De Foe he maintained a close 
correspondence ; that voluminous writer was the consistent 
apostle of moderation, and his fertile brain possibly gave 
birth to many of the ideas propounded by Harley.® He was 

' Berwick — James III, 20th November, 1712, 2nd May, isl June, 1713 
(Stuart I). 

- Middleton — Abram, 13th February, 171 3 (Macpherson). 

•■' Berwick — James III, ist April, 12th May, 7th May, 22nd June, and 
28th August, 1714 (Stuart I). 

^ Cf. H. Thomas — ? 3rd June, and Mar. — James III, i6th July 
and 5th August, 171 7 (Stuart IV^). 

^ Harley — Godolphin, 9th August, 1702 (Add. MSS., 28055, p. 3). 

* De Foe, Works (passim) ; Portland Papers (III-V, passim). 



52 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925. 



intimate also with Prior, Pope, and many lesser literary 
figures ; his interest in literature itself was real and accom- 
plished, and was expressed in a love of books which built up 
the magnificent Harleian Library. 

There is little doubt that from this source some of the 
lustre with which Harley shines is not his own. His is not 
a commanding personality ; he is perhaps hardly in the second 
rank of great statesmen. He was a great Parliamentarian, 
and at a later day would have ranked with the greatest in 
that so congenial sphere ; he would no less have achieved 
success as a Tudor minister. This paradox is responsible 
for Harley 's failure, for he was trying to establish an equili- 
brium between these two elements in the constitution at a 
time when the balance was turning decisively in favour of the 
former, and this * trimming,' its difficulty increased by the 
attitude of the Queen and of the Hanoverians in the succes- 
sion problem, finally lost him the favour of the Queen, Hano- 
ver and Parliament. Yet although in his political edifice he 
was building upc^n sand, his significance is not merely tran- 
sient. Himself outside parties, he was treading the only 
path whereby the Tory party ( ould advance to take its place 
in the constitutional development that sprang from 1688 ; in 
spirit he links the ' divine right ' of the seventeenth century 
to the Conservatism of the nineteenth. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

(i) Original Sources. 
(a) Unprinted. 

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(iodolphin MSS. (Add. 28040-90) — British Museum). 

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Ballard MSS. (Corr. of Dr. Charlett)— Bodleian 
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III, „ 

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5 » 



1893. 
1894. 



1898. 
1901, 



54 



THE STANHOPE ESSAY, 1925 



1775- 
1778. 



17 10-6. 
1898. 
1817. 

1733- 



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(a) General. 

Macpherson : History of Great Britain 
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1742. 



j> 



> J 



»> 



j> 



»> 



>» 



1775 
1870 

1875 
1872 

1880 

1902 

1876 

1882 



I 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



55 



Lord Mahon : History of England (1713-43) - 
W. E. H. Lecky : ,, ,, (i8th century) 

I. S. Leadam : ,, ,, (1702-60) - 

(/)) Political 

Keith Feiling- : History of the Tory Party 

(1640-1714) . . . - 

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W. T. Morg^an : English Political Parties and 
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1836. 
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1924. 
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E. Lodge : Portraits of Illustrious Personages 
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J. Churton Collins : Bolingbroke - - 1886. 



1914. 



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